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Are You a Nag?

Do you find yourself repeating requests over and over? Do you wonder if anyone is listening?

Google defines nag: annoy or irritate (a person) with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging.
"she constantly nags her daughter about getting married"
synonyms: harass, badger, give someone a hard time, hound, harry, criticize, carp, find fault with, keep on at, grumble at, go on at; henpeck; informal hassle, get on someone's case, ride.

Whatever you want to call it, you don’t want to be that. But how do you keep from it?

Let me preface this with certain conditions.
Training children requires repetition. That over-and-over-and-over repetition allows a good habit to become cemented in place. When children are small, you become their “conscience” to help them do right or to teach rules.
We change our behavior when we understand consequences. A child knows to obey is better than disobedience because he suffers consequences.
Education demands review.
Repetition teaches principles. Math has drills. Spelling has review. We practice handwriting.
We learn by repetition. I am not advocating you stop math drills, or avoid spelling review or remove training of rules.

What I am addressing, is what moms commonly do to correct choices husbands and children make.

When I reached 40, I noticed my metabolism slowed down. I didn’t need to eat as much as I did before. But I like to eat. If I continued to eat as I had before, I would gain weight. (Deep sigh.) So I must discipline myself. I select what I value and reduce amounts.
If every time I ate, my husband raised his eyebrows at my Pepsi for lunch (empty calories), or my dessert before my meal (if I’m going to eat dessert, I want to enjoy it), then he would be a nag. (He doesn’t do any of these things, of course.)

But why do we, as wives, think that we must do that for our husbands?
We want to control them. We “help” them by being their conscience.
We do the same for our children. They do have choices. They must operate within your rules, when they live at your home.

I cannot make my children obey.
If God didn’t make His children obey, what makes me think that I can?
Or maybe the question is, Should I?

That’s where nagging comes in.
We think by reminding them of what they should do, they will then choose to do what we say.
They won’t. They have free-will just like you do. (Like it or not.)
My children can be stubborn. (Wonder where they got that?) If I constantly tell them what to do, they want to do the opposite.
Same with your husband.

My husband considers what I say, but he has ultimate authority as to how our family is run. If, after telling him of a problem with one of the boys, he tells me he will talk with him. I must allow him to talk with him.

It won’t be right now (like I would want,) because he has to process what he will tell that son and when he should do it.

That means, I must wait.
Have I told you how much I hate waiting?
What do I do during this waiting?
Well, I could nag him, reminding him every couple of days that the son’s bad attitude hasn’t improved, (thus the nagging wife is developed).
Or I can remind myself: 1. He’s in charge of our family, and 2. He’s told me he will talk with him.
During this time, I pray that I can 1. Wait until the bad attitude improves, and 2. Keep a civil tongue as I fight with my thoughts.

I can easily think my husband is not “protecting” me because my son’s bad attitude is directed at me.
Even though the initial cause was my son’s bad attitude, this can divide our home and our relationship.

My husband talks with the son (finally). They reach an understanding. I’m not included. My husband tells me the results. I don’t think the consequences are hard enough for my son to change. (After all, I’ve been hurt.)

My husband leads our family. I must submit to his decision.
Is his decision best? I don’t think so. But I submit. Why? Because that is what God has said.
What are the alternatives?
I could nag my husband to change his decision. That shows my son that my husband is not the head of his household and disrespects him.
I could undermine his decision and force my son into another course of action, again that shows disrespect.
Submission is hard.
The attitude doesn’t change.

I had already reached my limit before I spoke to my husband. Now my limit is far-surpassed. I feel close to strangling someone---and it may not just be one person. I pray harder for my choices, my words, my submission.

And I learn that God is faithful. He will not allow any temptation beyond what I can take.

My focus becomes respecting my husband. He responds by loving me more and that includes “protecting me” from the bad attitudes.

Is this immediate? Never.

But the results show me again that I must trust God’s order in the family.

What if your husband or child is forgetful?
How many times do you just “remind” them of what they should do?
I use the apostle Paul as an example for this. He asked God, (Who doesn’t forget or get distracted), three times to remove something. God told him, “No” three times.
I remind my husband or my boys three times, then work to not tell them anymore.

This doesn’t include the common reminders as they go out the door every morning, “Do you have water, your hat, your bandana, your…”

These reminders are for right or wrong actions. (If they forget their hat, they will get sunburnt but it won’t kill them.)
I call it the “pearls before swine” principle.
When my boys know the truth and choose to live contrary to it, I tell them, once, twice, three times.
But they are accountable for their own actions.
I stop telling them.

If I continue to tell them, and they disregard the truth, they harden their hearts against it. Instead of helping them, by reminding them of what God says, the re-telling allows them to become more stiff-necked, their hearts become harder.
It’s like throwing pearls (the truth of God’s Word) to a pig who will just trample it underfoot.

Wives and mothers think that they should do the work of the Holy Spirit and continue to plague their loved ones with what they should do. Instead, pray for softening of their heart and allowing the Spirit to work on them.

You may find that your husband’s decision works better than you thought, or even better than your choice.
The result?
You speak less.
You pray more.
And God works on everyone.
Submission is hard. But the consequences of your disobedience may be even harder.
You become a nag.



How do you keep from being a nag?
 

There seems to be something in women that makes them want to run the show and that always makes us the loser. (Much like Eve.) This is such an important lesson, thanks for showing.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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